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�Monica� Moniker Gets Prof in Hot Water


— January 12, 2004

Most professors begin class with a greeting or directions to open a textbook to a certain page.

But that wasn’t always the habit of Alex Young, according to allegations in a federal lawsuit. He often chose to begin his political science class in the fall of 1998 by scouring the lecture hall for a student while yelling “Monica” and, when spotting her, asking about her “weekend with Bill.”

Problem was, “Monica” wasn�t Monica. She was an ordinary student at State University of New York at New Paltz who, according to her lawyer, bore no resemblance to the infamous White House intern other than her dark, shoulder-length hair.

Now, that professor will be defending his alleged antics in court after the New York City-based 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals green-lighted the student�s sexual harassment claim against him . . . .

[S]alacious details aside, says Joanna Grossman, a Hofstra University law professor, the case has important legal repercussions for academia in the sexual harassment arena.

“One of the ways that courts get rid of these cases is to parse out the action individually. Here, the 2nd Circuit said, ‘Let�s look at how the student took this,'” Grossman says. “[Young] was making comments in class, outside of class, making comments to humiliate or be punitive in nature. The court looked at the ways in which these comments poison an educational environment and said, ‘Let�s let the jury decide.'”

Good idea!! Details here from the ABA Journal.


Most professors begin class with a greeting or directions to open a textbook to a certain page.

But that wasn’t always the habit of Alex Young, according to allegations in a federal lawsuit. He often chose to begin his political science class in the fall of 1998 by scouring the lecture hall for a student while yelling “Monica” and, when spotting her, asking about her “weekend with Bill.”

Problem was, “Monica” wasn�t Monica. She was an ordinary student at State University of New York at New Paltz who, according to her lawyer, bore no resemblance to the infamous White House intern other than her dark, shoulder-length hair.

Now, that professor will be defending his alleged antics in court after the New York City-based 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals green-lighted the student�s sexual harassment claim against him . . . .

[S]alacious details aside, says Joanna Grossman, a Hofstra University law professor, the case has important legal repercussions for academia in the sexual harassment arena.

“One of the ways that courts get rid of these cases is to parse out the action individually. Here, the 2nd Circuit said, ‘Let�s look at how the student took this,'” Grossman says. “[Young] was making comments in class, outside of class, making comments to humiliate or be punitive in nature. The court looked at the ways in which these comments poison an educational environment and said, ‘Let�s let the jury decide.'”

Good idea!! Details here from the ABA Journal.

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